The legal department of the Antitrust Authority is involved
in preparing indictments against suspects in last year's
lulav cartel. Although this investigation was launched
in respect to operations of a cartel last year, it has become
clear that the same merchants are under suspicion again this
Rabbonim in Bnei Brak signed a proclamation that no one
should pay more than NIS 60 ($14) for a regular lulav.
After investigation and hearing testimony from merchants,
they concluded that was the maximum fair price. Reports were
that their recommendation was largely observed in the
chareidi areas of Bnei Brak and elsewhere. In their
proclamation they indicated that premium lulovim such
as the Deri strain which was the subject of a feature article
in the Succos edition of Yated, command somewhat
The premium strains constitute a small fraction of the
market, numbering some 10-15,000 lulovim. Altogether,
hundreds of thousands of lulovim are sold in Israel,
and larger amounts of money were at stake in the mass market
lulovim that are imported from El-Arish near the Gaza
Strip in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula.
Last year, a number of lulav merchants filed
complaints with the Antitrust Authority against a few large
wholesalers. They claimed that a number of merchants banded
together in order to acquire most of the lulovim from
El-Arish as well as other places, in addition to gaining
control of the haddasim market. The purpose: to sell
them at astronomical prices and earn vast sums of money,
amounting to millions of shekolim. The intention was
to sell their merchandise at four times the usual cost.
As a result of the cartel on the lulav and
haddasim market, prices will rise by 100%. This will
also result in a rise in the prices of the lulovim by
hundreds of percents, forcing consumers to purchase
lulovim at very high costs.
On Thursday Elul 6 the Antitrust Authority said that its
legal department is currently preparing the draft of an
indictment against those suspected last year of forming the
lulav cartel. They added that even before a hearing
was a complaint was filed to the effect that members of last
years cartel collaborated once again, again importing most of
the lulovim from Egypt, and raised their prices.
Antitrust Authority investigators conducted searches among a
number of arba minim merchants in order to prevent a
reoccurrence of the violation of the existing Monopolies Law.
Officials told Yated Ne'eman that the investigation is
focused mainly on the suspicion that the merchants intend to
import the lulovim in a manner preventing others from
importing them from El-Arish, since the Monopolies Law does
not apply to agricultural produce grown in Israel. Therefore,
the investigation against the members of the cartel, on the
suspicion that they banded together in order to corner the
haddasim market, will apparently not result in
Commissioner of the Antitrust Authority, Dr. David Tadmor,
relates that the allegations are being investigated. "If it
becomes clear that there is substance to these allegations,
we will regard it as a situation in which suspects who were
under investigation last year are repeating the violation,
exploiting their monopolistic power to raise the prices of
commodities which for a large part of the populace are
considered a basic necessity," Tadmor said.
In the week before Succos, at which the sale of the arba
minim are at their height in markets throughout the
country, the Authority continued its investigations.